Monthly Archives: March 2014

I wish I had 20/20 hindsight vision for all my current opinions

Editors Note: As a general rule I prefer to read the latest books on subjects because the authors usually will have had more information with which to cover a topic. However there have been times when reading an older book brings out interesting information. One of these just occurred in reading Winston Churchill’s six volume series ‘The Second World War’ published in 1953. He describes a very famous scene at the Big Three meeting in Potsdam when Truman tells Stalin that we have ‘a new weapon’ without any additional information. This conversation occurred just after the first successful test of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. I have read several descriptions of this conversation and they all agree with how the event took place. Truman tells Stalin and Stalin makes some statement about hoping we use it in well. He asks no questions about the bomb itself. When Churchill reports this exchange he said he particularly noted Stalin’s apparent lack of interest and concludes that Stalin knew nothing about the bomb and did not understand it’s significance. The advantage of hindsight is that we now know that Churchill’s assessment of the situation was exactly backward. Stalin was well aware of the bomb and what it was. In fact we now know that there were at least two people, one of them British, that were supplying the Soviets with classified information about the bomb.

A valuable piece of land

Throughout history the Bosporus was the entry way from Asia to Europe. The city of Istanbul is currently located at this site but in ancient times there was only the town of Byzantium. Usually armies had to ferry their troops across this stretch of water but the Persians built a pontoon bridge. A permanent bridge was not built across this historical waterway until 1973.

(The Great Courses – The Persian Empire)

Payback’s a Bitc*

The famous battle of marathon where the Athenians defeated the Persians was in 490 BCE. A couple years before that in 492 BCE ┬áthe Persians defeated Thrace and Macedonia. At that time Macedonia was ruled by Alexander who was the great great great grandfather of Alexander the Great who would conquer Persian in the 330’s BCE.

(The Great Courses – The Persian Empire)

United during the war

After the outbreak of the Second World War Britain formed a National Government which contained members from both parties. This meant that when Germany was defeated Britain had not had an election in almost 10 years (there had not been a regular election for several years just before the outbreak of the war). Even though Britain was still at war with Japan the defeat of Germany brought about the decision that elections should be held. The election was held in Britain but the results were withheld for three weeks while the ballots of soldiers abroad were returned. This happened to occur while the Big 3 leaders Churchill, Truman and Stalin were to meet in Potsdam. Churchill brought along the opposition party leader so that he knew exactly what was happening in case he had won the election.

(Book – The Second World War – Winston S. Churchill)

Gravity as a force…not spooky at a distance

One of the many things that Einstein did when he wrote his theory of gravity was to add a ‘time delay’ to the effect of gravity. That means that if the sun were to disappear in an instant the earth would continue to revolve in it’s current orbit as it does now for another 8 minutes until it could feel the effect that the suns gravity no longer affected it’s orbit.

(The Great Courses – Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality)

Spheres of Influence

As countries in Europe were being freed from German occupation rival groups in each of those countries fought for control. This happened in Poland, Italy, France, Yugoslavia and Greece. In France de Gaulle had a lot of support so there was little doubt that he would form the new government. In Yugoslavia General Tito emerged as the victor. In Italy democracy prevailed. Poland was a special problem because of the various groups and that was the country that caused the British and French to declare war on Germany. Greece was a problem with the old monarchy in exile, and communist groups and democracy groups fighting each other as much as the Germans. The British stepped in to defeat the communist groups. The press in Britain and the US were very critical of what was seen as British intervention in the internal affairs of Greece but they contended that the communist groups were attempting to take over the government against the wishes of the people. The Russians did not object and refrained from criticizing the British. There was a good reason…Churchill and Stalin had reached an ‘understanding’ that the Ally power that was responsible for the country being freed would have the most say in helping set up that government. This allowed them to be responsible for places like Romania and Bulgaria. Roosevelt was not very supportive of this agreement but eventually gave in with the understanding that it was a temporary solution and would not result in ‘spheres of influence’. It appears in hindsight that Roosevelt’s fear was well founded.

(Book – The Second World War – Winston S. Churchill)

The long way around

Scientists believe that about 50 million years ago a relative of the marsupial called the mountain monkey migrated from South America to Antarctica and then over and up to Australia. This animal then evolved into today’s Australian marsupials kangaroos, koalas and wombats.

(The Great Courses – A New History of Life)

The North wins again

After the continent of South America split from Africa it was isolated from all other life on the earth except for a few migrations over the oceans from Africa. When South America finally collided with North America by 3 million years ago the animals from North and South America began to migrate north and south. In the end the animals from the north were the dominant species. The only real South America successes were the armadillos, opossums and the porcupines. There are several reasons that are viewed as the reasons for this victory by the northern animals. One was that It was easier for the North American animals to travel from the colder harsher North American climes to the more tropical South American climes. Another factor was that since the South American animals were isolated they evolved on their own without any major competition while the North American animals had competition from Asia across the Bering land bridge so they were more hardened by competition.

(The Great Courses – A New History of Life)